I have, as I suppose many composers have, a frighteningly profound relationship with the tools of my trade. Piano, pencil, music paper, laptop, keyboard. I can spend a ridiculous amount of time with these tools, while not really being aware of them, in the way my eyelashes come in handy several times a minute without ever drawing attention to themselves.

They are that good at their job.

But they aren’t enough. I have to, on a regular basis, get away from the tools in order to do what I do.

Yesterday, on my morning walk, I was playing through a work-in-progress in my head. (How important is it to be able to recall an entire piece you are working on? I find it enormously helpful. But it’s tricky – as you work on the piece, it changes, so what exactly are you remembering?) It became crystal clear to me, in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had I been in my studio, how to solve a problem that had arisen in the piece.

The cool breeze of a summer morning lifted the mystery away, as if it were no more than a damp mist.

Of course, my pace quickened, which probably would make my doctor happy — I couldn’t wait to get back to my tools to try out the new solution.

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